mon 28/09/2020

LIFT 2012: The Coming Storm, BAC | reviews, news & interviews

LIFT 2012: The Coming Storm, BAC

LIFT 2012: The Coming Storm, BAC

Forced Entertainment supply an evening of achingly boring tales

Six cast members fight for the microphone in 'The Coming Storm'Hugo Glendinning

You know that feeling when you start telling a story in the pub only to realise that no one is listening? You look up to see that that two people at the end have started a new conversation among themselves and the rest are laughing about something someone else said earlier? You falter a little, try to catch someone’s eye and wonder if you should just plough on or give up. This could be what Forced Entertainment's new show The Coming Storm is about, but it's hard to tell.

You know that feeling when you start telling a story in the pub only to realise that no one is listening? You look up to see that that two people at the end have started a new conversation among themselves and the rest are laughing about something someone else said earlier? You falter a little, try to catch someone’s eye and wonder if you should just plough on or give up. This could be what Forced Entertainment's new show The Coming Storm is about, but it's hard to tell.

It begins with a woman telling us that “A good story needs a strong beginning...” then signally fails to offer one. There is only one microphone and the six cast members fight for it, interrupting one another to tell their tales, stumbling like drunk after dinner speakers at a wedding, or ineffectual comperes; none able to hold the group's attention.

In a Radio 4 documentary about the company that aired earlier this week, artistic director Tim Etchells explained that the microphone “is a contrivance; a formal frame to help make decisions and build logic”. Revered in the live art scene here and in continental Europe since they formed in the early Eighties, for this latest experimental show Forced Entertainment spent three months improvising and devising in an industrial unit in Sheffield and it is perhaps this rehearsal process that gives it the feeling a strange group therapy session; awkward silences, embarrassing revelations and achingly boring personal tales - many interrupted by requests to know “which Hollywood actor would play that role if it was made into a film?” Props consist of a home-made wind machine (made by cast member Richard Lowdon, who is also the group’s designer), various large branches and a wooden electric chair. There are also two rails of clothes and much flashing of bras as the women - Clare Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O'Connor - climb in and out of dresses for no apparent reason.

There is a lovely sadness to a stage full of actors who don't seem to have anything to say, and there are a few poignant moments - such as when someone tries to hang themselves using a clothes rail that is too short - but more often than not, rather than evoking a sense of how fragile the personas we create can be, the surreal comedy turns into a French and Saunders parody: dated and kind of silly.

With much breaking down of the fourth wall and badly played piano they half tell us about dragons in offices, romances on buses and a sex slave locked in a cellar. As these are stories about the difficulty of telling stories - simply riffs on the contrivance of narrative - we must assume that any frustration on the part of the audience is deliberate, but the meaninglessness makes for a very long evening. When a performance becomes boring, questions about whether or not it intends to can seem a little beside the point.

The meaninglessness makes for a very long evening

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters